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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 6, 2014 Did Menendez kill pro-Israel bill to save it? By Dmitriy Shapiro JNS.org Washington Jewish Week The killing of a major pro-Israel bill in the Senate Foreign Relations Commit- tee last week has ignited another round of finger point- ing between Democratic and Republican legislators, with both sides accusing the other of playing politics. Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) pulled the U.S.-Israel Strate- gic Partnership Act of 2013 (S. 462) from the committee's agenda May 19, after ranking member Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) proposed an amend- ment requiring the Obama administration to present any nuclear agreement it reaches with Iran to Congress for its approval. Although any congres- sional vote would be non- binding, Menendez told JNS. org that Corker's amendment, which had nothing to do with Israel, could have hurt bipartisan support for the pro-Israel bill. The bill would bolster the U.S.-Israel relationship by zZ!i!i ;i!i!iii!!i!iii!! i Let a Doctor of Education with | 4 college degrees and more than 30 years of teaching experience Dr. Betty Arsenault Member of IECA work one-on-one with your child. Study Skills, Elementary and Middle School Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Reading Comprehension, Language Arts SAT I ACT [ FCAT I TOEFL I GED My Students Experience Success 409 Montgomery Road, Suite 165 [ Altamonte Springs, FL 32714 www.AECtutoring.com [ DrBetty@bellsouth.net [ 407-869-8444 reaffirming previous policy and pursuing greater coop- eration on defense, homeland security, energy, and cyber security. It declared Israel "a major strategic partner." The bill was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2013, gained bipartisan support, and was lobbied for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as part of its legislative agenda. "Senator Boxer asked us to take it down, and I agreed with her," said Menendez, who explained that the bill had been worked on "for the better part a year." "We finally had broad bi- partisan support for [the bill], solved some of the visa waiver issues [for Israelis seeking to enter the U.S.], and then in the last minutes, without any heads up, we get an amend- ment that in my mind, while maybe worthy of debate, is not worthy to put into this bill and take this bill down," he said. According to a senior Dem- ocratic staffer, the Corker amendment surprised Demo- crats who hoped the bill would easily sail through the committee for a vote on the Senate floor. "Unfortunately, basically at the eleventh hour toward the Spring into Action with arl ndoAc.,o,, " Conditioning & Home Automation q m \\; Professional Cleaning Exp,s 4/30/205 Office of Sen. Robert Menendez Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) speaks at a press confer- ence in March that followed the Senate's passage of a bill on Ukraine. Looking on is Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), whose amendment proposing congressional oversight of a deal on the Iran nuclear program this month prompted Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to withdraw the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013. tail end of the deadline where you can submit amendments, we got an amendment from Corker which was a bit of a shock because everyone had been working with him for months on this," the staffer said. Menendez is seen as one of the leaders pushing for sanc- tions and congressional over- sight on the Iran negotiations, co-authoring the Nuclear Weapon Free IranAct (S. 1881) with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) at the end of last year. He said the non-binding resolutions that Corker's amendment requires would dilute the Senate's push for oversight of a final agree- ment with Iran, as recom- mended in Menendez-Kirk bill, which is still awaiting a vote on the floor. "Why would I want to go for an inferior vote when I have a far more reaching, significant vote?" said Menendez. The Corker amendment would have Congress voting on an Iran nuclear plan before the administration agrees to it, rather than overseeing a sanctions adjustment post- agreement, as stipulated in the Menendez-Kirk bill. "We put sanctions in place to get them to the table so I'm disappointed that it appears that there's not going to be a role for in weighing in on the overall deal," Corker told JNS. org, explaining the reason- ing behind his amendment. "I realize that there may be individual sanctions relief issues that we deal with over time but I think we have an important role to play here and I think I'd like to see us vote on it." Kirk, although not a For- eign Relations Committee member but active on pro- Israel and other foreign policy legislation, expressed disap- pointment over Menendez's decision. "He was maybe afraid that Congress was going to do the right thing. That members would vote, that indeed the Senate should be able to review the Iran agreement," Kirk said when asked why he thinks Menendez pulled the bill."I would say the sanctions should probably pass and over time we're going to realize that that agreement with Iran is less and less." Had Menendez not with- drawn the bill, committee Democrats would have been required to make a tough vote for or again'st the amendment. Going against the amendment could have put into question Democrats' support for Israel, which is highly skeptical of the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran and therefore in favor of congres- sional oversight. Favoring the amendment, meanwhile, would have pitted Democrats against the White House, which has taken a tough stand against measures for congressional oversight of the Iran talks, including those in Menendez's own bill. Two days after Menendez killed the bill, he received the Zionist Organization of America's (ZOA) Defender of Zion Award. Considered by some the most uncompromis- ing pro-Israel organization, the ZOA received Menendez warmly. National President Morton Klein said the senator showed "extraordinary cour- age in speaking out, even on issues he knows that much of his party may not be there with him." In his speech to the ZOA, Menendez did not explain his decision on the Strategic Partnership bill, but said he wouldn't allow anyone to politicize support for Israel. Though Klein did not agree with Menendez's decision on the bill, he told JNS.org that after talking to staff, he felt assured that Menendez had good reasons for what he did and didn't feel it was appropri- ate to bring the issue up at the ZOA ceremony. "If he politically thought the bill won't have a chance with this amendment then he did the right thing even though, of course, we regret- ted that he had to do it," Klein said. "He has to feel uncomfortable because he's as great a friend of Israel in the Senate as there is, period. Politics will force you to do things you don't agree with." Klein also said that the is- sue should not get in the way of looking at Menendez's long commitment to Israel, and that the senator still deserved to be recognized for that. "Of course he deserves the award. I mean, he's done everything for Israel. All his positions have been fantastic," Klein said. "He's given the most extraordinary speeches on the Senate floor." "Speeches that sound like I would have written them," he added. "So even if there's a thing or two that we don't agree with, his body of work is extraordinary." Although, the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership bill's journey in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is over, Boxer has said she plans to "hotline" the bill--bpassing the committee for a vote on the Senate floor. The process requires the bill, which has 62 co-sponsors, to receive a unanimous consent. Triumphing over terrorism Living Beyond Terrorism: Israefi Stories of Hope and Healing by Zieva Dauber Konvisser, Ph.D.; Gefen Publishing Paperback, 356 Pages; $26.95" e-book: $9.99 "So many Israeli lives have been taken by terrorism and so many families shattered. This book tells a different story: the determination and will of Israelis to rebuild and, indeed, to triumph over the terrorists, a victory of the hu- man spirit."--Daniel Kurtzer, Princeton University, Former United States Ambassador to Israel and Egypt "....this book is the key to unlock the inspiring complexities of the little understood phenomenon of post-traumatic growth. The powerful stories of healing and hope in this volume are a reflection of how remark- able the human spirit is. This book is a must read for anyone facing the darkness of tragedy."--Eli Somer, PhD., clinical professor of psychology, University of Haifa; past president of International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation No one can forget the devastating aftermath of a suicide bomber detonating in a crowded bus or cafi But what happens to the survivors of such indiscriminate and horrific attacks? Will the physical and emotional scars overwhelm them, or will they be able to transcend the trau- matic experience and lead healthy and fulfilling lives? Many of those who survive are able to grow and thrive, as described in "Living Be- yond Terrorism." This book shares compelling stories of hope and healing, as told by ordinary people who suddenly became the innocent victims of indiscriminate terrorist attacks in Israel, primar- ily between 2000 and 2006. Forty-eight survivors, their relatives and the families of the bereaved discuss their remarkable life journeys - from terrorism to hope and optimism and from grief to meaning and healing; they speak not just of moving on with life as usual, but of mov- ing forward with new vitality, purpose and productivity, contributing to society while turning tragedy into action. They bear witness to their experiences in order to make sense of them as best as they can and to help others. The powerful stories in Living Be- yond Terrorism are testimony to their inner strength and determination--a victory of the human spirit--and inspire each of us as we meet the challenges in our lives.